Dissertation Festival Blog: How to use the library remotely for your dissertation

How to use the library remotely for your dissertation banner

Introduction

It’s time for the second blog! These dissertation festival blogs are an opportunity for me to share my thoughts on the Dissertation Festival Events I have attended. For those who don’t know, the Library’s Dissertation Festival is a collaborative effort from the Library, Digital Skills department and Institute of Academic Development (IAD). They have shared a series of virtual events to provide students with the knowledge and resources to make the most out of their dissertations or theses.  To find out more about the festival, click HERE, and you can see my previous blog HERE.

The Session

Hopefully, you should all be aware of the University Library and its associated buildings. Something you may not be conscious of are all the online and offline resources they have on offer. I must admit, even I (a student intern within the Library and University Collections department) am not 100% sure what “RaB” means or that you could easily filter your results on DiscoverEd (see the image below). I learned that and more in the “How to use the Library remotely for your dissertation” event.

Image showing how you can limit searches on DiscoverEd

How to limit search options on DiscoverEd

The session began by covering the basics of accessing resources. For online materials, that meant a comprehensive tutorial on how to search on DiscoverEd and a discussion as to why you may need to use the University’s VPN to obtain specific resources. Print was a little bit trickier to communicate (understandably), but directions were given to regularly check the Library Services Update page for the latest information in response to Government Guidelines.

For finding resources about a particular research area, Library Databases are a great place to go. They can give you a window into the literature you are interested in and contain specialist resources produced by experts. If you are unsure what you are looking for, the Library has made searching easier as you can browse databases based on by subject or as a complete A-Z list!

Now, I am sure at this point you are wondering what is “RaB”? During the session, I learned that if the Library doesn’t have the book you require, or it is only available as a print version, you can … Request a Book (RaB). It is such an excellent service that I am sure be beneficial for anyone, not only those completing their dissertation. Another valuable service feature offered by the Library are Inter-Library Loans (ILLs) which enable you to request digital copies of articles and book chapters from other libraries!

Thoughts and Conclusion

If I were to summarise this session in just one saying, it would be “It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks”. During the event, I was pleasantly surprised by all the new knowledge I gained, especially about DiscoverEd – a service I have been regularly using over the past 4 years! I was also reminded about other fantastic resources and features supported by the Library, which would help you with your dissertation, thesis, and even general studies!

If you are interested in the session and want to check it out, you can find it HERE!

Thanks for checking out the blog, see you at the next one.

Dissertation Festival Blog: So… what is a systematic review?

Introduction

Welcome to the first of three blogs, where I document my Dissertation Festival Experience. For those who don’t know, the Library’s Dissertation Festival is a collaborative effort from the Library, Digital Skills department and Institute of Academic Development (IAD). They have come together to host a series of virtual sessions spanning over two weeks, providing students with the knowledge and resources to make the most out of their dissertations. Think Tomorrowland, Glastonbury and Coachella but online, free and hosted by the University of Edinburgh. So not quite the same. However, the Dissertation Festival is a fantastic opportunity to learn tips and tricks to help you write, reference and uncover what support is available to you at the University.  

The Session

The first Dissertation Festival session participated in was titled “What is a Systematic Review dissertation like?”. I decided to attend because was interested in finding out how systematic reviews (SR) differed from other dissertation types. Luckily, this was thoroughly covered within the presentation. After the first 5 minutes of the event, I was able to explain that the goal of a systematic review;  to answer a specific question in a topic area using reproducible review principles.    

Slide from Dissertation Festival used to help illustrate where different review approaches

Slide from Dissertation Festival used to help illustrate where different review approaches sit

Other key points of the session include “The supporting principles of a SR” which highlighted the need for a pre-defined and detailed methodology. This was an important topic for me as I am typically more of a ‘go-with-the-flow type person when writing pieces of work. However, now knowing the aims of an SR, I am confident that is not the best strategy. Instead, you should develop a clear plan (in advance), have an inclusion criterion for studies you are considering, find ways to avoid bias and document all your SR  activities. 

Thoughts and Conclusion

I would recommend this session for those who are just about to carry out a dissertation or thesis and don’t know where to start. The presentation is designed to help you gain a basic level of understanding a SR and what it entails. For all, you indecisive people out there or those who don’t know what research method to use, the pros and cons list shown in the presentation can help you evaluate if this is the right research method for you! Throughout the session, there were lots of valuable pieces of advice and information given. There were also signposts for further knowledge items to help you further your understanding in your own time.  

If you are interested in the session and want to check it out, you can find it HERE! Thanks for checking out the blog.